Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning (A Shadow Bright and Burning #1)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Random House BFYR

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves (goodreads)?

A Shadow Bright and Burning is nothing short of fun and bingeworthy!
Plot: During Queen Victoria's reign, England is under attack from Ancients, large monsters that just want to kill and hurt others. Sorcerers are the only hope in the battle against the Ancients and Henrietta just so happens to fit the bill of the prophesized girl that will save them all. Except Henrietta isn't so sure that she's the Chosen One. 

The pacing in A Shadow Bright and Burning is all but perfect. There is just enough backstory given about the Ancients and the war at hand that I never felt like I was flying through the plot or drowning in the dreaded info dump.I loved that Henrietta's Chosen One status was a bit tongue in cheek, and the back and forth regarding Henrietta's contribution to the team.

From reading the synopsis alone, I thought that this was going to be a typical dark fantasy, but I actually had a lot of fun reading this one. It didn't take itself too seriously which made it easier to fly through this novel.

Characters: Henrietta's voice is what made A Shadow Bright and Burning worth reading. She is fully fleshed out with emotional outbursts and a desire to prove herself as a young woman in a world that wants her only in the kitchen. What made this novel so much fun is the cast of characters she finds herself shacked up with. Historically, sorcerers have only  been male so Henrietta ends up living in a home of young male sorcerers. Her relationship with them as the only girl is both endearing and hilarious at times.

Since there are so many men, the only natural question would be the love interest. There is a hint of a love triangle (square? I'm not too sure), but it's very much so underplayed. I can see the romance becoming a bigger focus in future books.

Worldbuilding: Victorian England is always one of my favorite settings, especially with a smidge of magic thrown in. The Ancients felt very natural against this dark landscape and I loved that creatures from the fae world were also introduced. There are actual faeries, hobgoblins, and reference to Queen Mab. I can only hope that Cluess borrows more from the magical realm later in the series.

Short N Sweet: A Shadow Bright and Burning doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes this a debut you'll have no choice but to love!


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